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Dads, Create a Fathering Job Description

  • Ken R. Canfield, Ph.D. The National Center for Fathering
  • 2005 14 Mar
Dads, Create a Fathering Job Description

At work, your job description helps to direct what you do and keeps you on task, giving you an identity and a purpose within your company. Many dads need a job description when they first become fathers. They hold that first baby in their arms and ask, "Now what do I do?" Other men wake up to the joys and responsibilities of fatherhood later in life, and want to know, "How can I become the father my children need?"

Few of us received training in how to be an effective father before actually becoming one, but it's never too late to think through the issues of fathering, plan our fathering strategy, and begin to put it into place.

Expectations can be major factors as you work on your job description. Our culture places expectations on how you should father; your co-workers' expectations often have more to do with career ambitions than connecting with your children; and of course, your parents and in-laws have expectations for you-after all, you're raising their grandchildren!

The greatest expectations, however, will be your own and your wife's. It's vital that you recognize and understand your father's impact on your life, because that's where you first received messages about what a father does. None of our earthly fathers were perfect, so it's important for us to understand their shortcomings as well as carry forward their strengths.

Then, visit with your wife about her expectations for you. She is an essential partner in your parenting, and like you, her expectations for you will be influenced by her father. If her dad was absent or abusive, she may find it difficult to trust you with the children. If her father was present but emotionally disconnected, she may not appreciate the distinctive contributions that a man brings to the parenting team or the ways in which men interact with children. If she had a close, loving relationship with him, she may have high expectations and you may feel pressure to live up to an unrealistic ideal.

Discuss expectations with her. Help her understand your ideas about fathering, and listen closely to her perspective. Ask her, "Honey, what do you expect me to do as a father?" Get specific. Talk about changing diapers and other daily care taking duties, the amount of time spent with the kids, discipline, navigating work and family issues, moral and spiritual training, the priority of your marriage, and other values related to childrearing.

Remember, most women are adept at relational skills. My wife Dee has taught me more about good parenting than I can thank her for. We men need to learn from our wives, for our own good.

Once you have defined what is realistic to expect from yourself as a dad, I suggest verbalizing your commitment to that role. Define "father" as a verb, not a noun. Resolve to live out your commitment to your children day by day.

The Bible's Fathering Job Description

Here is a quick survey of some of the most significant Biblical teaching on fathering:

Genesis 49:26 Your father's blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills.

Deut. 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Deut. 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Psalm 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Proverbs 3:12 The LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Philippians 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The National Center for Fathering was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield because every child needs a dad they can count on -- someone who loves them, knows them, guides them and helps them achieve their destiny. Visit for more articles and resources to assist dads in nearly every fathering situation.